USKOK launches probe and seeks custody for Osijek judges and Mamic brothers

NEWS 10.06.202120:41

An investigation was launched on Thursday into judges Darko Kruslin, Zvonko Vekic, and Ante Kvesic, the brothers Zoran and Zdravko Mamic, and businessman Drago Tadic for taking nearly €500,000 in bribes, influence peddling, and giving bribes in exchange for influence peddling.

In addition to launching the investigation after preliminary probes, which involved police and tax investigators, the USKOK anti-corruption office also requested custody for the six men.

USKOK said that the main suspect Kruslin, at the time an USKOK judge, on November 22 2016 went to the luxury box of Zagreb’s Maksimir stadium where he was introduced to Zdravko Mamic, with whom he socialised on that occasion even though he knew that at that time proceedings were underway against Mamic and his brother Zoran and their co-defendants at his court and that he was likely to be appointed president of the panel of judges in the case.

Aware that Kruslin is a judge at the Osijek County Court and in order to win his favour so that, as a judge, he could intercede for him when necessary, Zdravko Mamic put his own expensive Audemars Piguet watch, on the judge’s hand, which the judge accepted, USKOK said.

The anti-corruption investigators note that in the period from April 2017 to 21 May 2019 Zdravko Mamic, at the time an indictee in several cases that also included his brother and other indictees, met with Vekic – who too was an USKOK judge – in Zagreb, Osijek, Banja Luka, Siroki Brijeg, and Dubai.

Bribes in exchange for more lenient court decisions

Vekic allegedly promised Mamic to use his friendship and rapport with Osijek County Court judges, including Kvesic, to secure favourable court decisions for Mamic and his co-defendants in exchange “for a reward to be split with them (judges).”

“He told (Mamic) that he would secure an acquittal for him in one case, make a decision dismissing the indictment in another case, as well as secure the adoption of a decision on the return of bail in the amount of 7 million kuna in the third case,” said USKOK.

In line with their agreement, on several occasions Zdravko Mamic gave Vekic a total of at least €370,000 for him and two other judges.

In addition to that, together with his brother Zoran, Zdravko Mamic met with Kvesic in Siroki Brijeg, where they agreed on rewarding Kvesic through Vekic for a favourable court decision in one case.

Zoran Mamic, USKOK alleges, then secured €100,000 “for court decisions that would be in his favour”. The €100,000 bribe for judges Vekic and Kvesic was allegedly given to the judges, at Zdravko Mamic’s request, by businessman Drago Tadic, who was aware of the purpose of the transaction as he had witnessed several meetings and arrangements between Mamić and the judges.

USKOK also alleges that Zdravko Mamic paid for a trip for Vekic to the United Arab Emirates in late 2017 and “persons close to him” as a reward for the agreed favour and that, by using his authority in the Croatian Football Association (HNS), he made it possible for Vekic to attend a match between the Croatian national team in Great Britain in June 2018 at the expense of the HNS.